Hearty Soup You Can Make With Ham: Senate Bean Soup from McGuire’s

This past summer, some friends of ours let us use their condo in Destin, Fl where I learned a few things. While we were there, we discovered a restaurant called McGuire’s Irish Pub. They have FANTASTIC steak. My husband and I split one and the kids ate most of it, so we were inclined to go back a second time during our week-long trip so we could order enough steak for everyone.

Wasteful, but nonetheless COOL – the restaurant is covered with signed $1 bills.

  mnyatrestrnt We, of course, had to do our part…


As for the rest of the menu – the “kid”s pizza” is basically a big hunk of bread with sauce and cheese on it. My kids didn’t care for it. Although, why would they when there was really great steak on the table? Also on the menu is the 18-cent bowl of Senate Bean Soup. Apparently, that’s what they used to serve in the Senate and 18 cents is what they used to charge for it.

If you like a ham/bean combination anything – this soup is for you. It’s delicious. So when my parents made a ham for Christmas, and my Dad and I were talking about what to do with the bone I was all about some McGuire’s Senate Bean Soup.



McGuire’s Senate Bean Soup Recipe

from Taste of the South June/July 2009, Shared by Bo from Bo’s Bowl (Thank you, Bo!)
  • 1 lb dried navy beans
  • 4 pints water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 large ham bone, preferably with bits of meat left on it
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 stalks of celery, including leaves, roughly chopped (I prefer smaller pieces of celery and carrots)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp salt
  • 16 turns freshly ground black pepper
  • cheese cloth

Rinse beans and place them in a large bowl.  Next, add water and let the beans soak covered overnight.  Drain beans and place in a large pot with a ham bone.  Add cold water to cover, plus two additional inches of water.  Bring to a boil.  While that’s happening, make a cheese cloth pouch containing the bay leaf and cloves.  When the water is boiling add the pouch, onion, celery, carrots, salt, and pepper.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and the meat is falling off the bone (about 3 hours).  Remove the pouch and the bone.  Before serving, shred the meat and add it back to the soup.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Tip from my Dad: Did you know you can buy a ham bone from Honey Baked Ham? Who knew!

Have any of you ever been to McGuire’s or had this soup before? Do you have a favorite soup or recipe made with ham?

19 Responses to Hearty Soup You Can Make With Ham: Senate Bean Soup from McGuire’s

  1. Sherryl December 28, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    Cloves or cloves of garlic? I love bean/ham soup! Definitely going to try this one out.

    • Heather December 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

      Cloves. I hope you like it, Sherryl.I thought it was great.

  2. Alysa November 18, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    I live in Destin and I choose McGuire’s for my birthday dinner every single year just for their amazing steak, weird burgers that my kids love, and the Senate Bean Soup! :))

    • Heather January 22, 2015 at 11:38 am #

      I would too, if I were nearby. Now I need to make this again. It’s soup weather! Have a great day!

  3. Darlene Young April 8, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

    I worked a few doors from McQuires and ate ther a lot. The bean soup is great. Try their corn beef and cabbage sometime..fantastic. Also if you order their chili and cheese nachos it will feed 4 easily. I have a lot of their items and they all are great.

  4. Aundrea September 26, 2015 at 9:14 pm #

    My husband and I visit Mcguire’s for the last 2 yrs when we were in Destin. The food was great and the white beans were a favorite, especially since I cook white beans every Sunday. They are a favorite of ours.

  5. Hedgehoggal March 30, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    Hello! My husband and I love this soup! We really want to try our hand at making it, but we aren’t sure whether “2 stalks of celery” is 2 whole heads or 2 of the ribs? Thanks in advance!

    • Heather September 19, 2017 at 12:53 pm #

      Two ribs. Hope it turned out well!

  6. Dawn April 28, 2016 at 9:58 pm #

    I live in Pensacola, where McGuire’s originated *(and is still located.) The restaurant in Pensacola is said to have OVER 1 Million dollars worth of one dollar bills hanging in the restaurant, and that was at last count, a few years ago. I LOVE the Senate Bean Soup. I grew up eating Navy beans with ham so it’s a comfort food for me. When we have company come in town, a trip to McGuire’s is ALWAYS a must. My mother never used the celery and carrots, nor did she use the herbs mentioned in the recipe, just good ole salt and pepper with the onions and ham,My Mom did use the same method of cooking. You and your family should visit Pensacola, it’s less expensive due to not being considered a “destination spot” and doesn’t get as much coverage as Destin does since Destin is very well known due to Spring Breakers. Just as beautiful, if not more beautiful than Destin and more family friendly.

    • Heather September 19, 2017 at 12:52 pm #

      Hi Dawn, I wrote this post a while ago and we have since been to the Pensacola one. That soup is just so so good! (We also like Peg Leg Pets’s!) Hope you have a great day – Heather

  7. holly boggie May 6, 2016 at 7:43 pm #

    p,s. I live in San Diego and have never been to McGuires but I will have to remember to try it next time I am in Pensacola. Sounds like they know how to make good comfort food! Holly

  8. Summer L September 14, 2016 at 2:30 pm #

    My family and I love McGuire’s! We eat there every year when we visit the Destin/FWB area. And we ALL have a bowl of the soup. I bought their cookbook a few years ago when I was there. The soup recipe is in there, along with the Ruben Egg Rolls (OMG, I love those things) and even their Irish Wake. I need to break open that book and make some soup!

  9. Anna Maria Watts October 1, 2016 at 5:08 pm #

    Just went there with my mother and sister two weeks ago from Meridian, Ms. Food was terrific but our server was rude. The remainder of the staff was really sweet and enjoyed the gift shop and lady that works there was truly delightful.

  10. Lucky Marr November 26, 2016 at 9:26 am #

    We go out of our way to eat at McGuire’s in Pensacola…we are light eaters so usually only order the Senate Bean Soup, however, you cannot just order the soup…you must order one more thing. So, we always order the Irish Whiskey Bread Pudding! (to die for). We too enjoy their steak. Next time you go be sure to go to their restroom…you might be surprisingly surprised.

    • Lucky Marr March 29, 2020 at 7:06 pm #

      4 years later and we are still enjoying Senate Bean Soup…we try not to let the current Senators or Representatives spoil our appetite for their soup, especially Nancy. Since there are only 2 of us and the recipe makes a lot… I always share with my neighbors… I am one of the most popular people in the neighborhood with my Senate Bean Soup. Anyone having trouble finding ham bones and do not wish to buy a whole ham just to get one, go to the Honey Baked Ham Store where they sell ham bones for $3-10.00 with enough ham left on the bone to make several sandwiches plus add a tad of sweetness to the soup.

  11. Raine Hynes June 9, 2017 at 4:18 pm #

    I’ve been to the one in Pensacola and was disgusted at the absolute gluttony of the patrons and the size of the portions at this restaurant. A liverwurst sandwich comes with an entire pound of liverwurst with 2 small pieces of rye bread. The burgers are enough to feed 3 people. I would never go back. That’s why more than 1/3 of americans are obese. This kind of eating and think of the number of animals that are slaughtered to satiate your gluttony. No thank you.

  12. Joyce Kitts July 21, 2017 at 2:54 pm #

    We have been going to McGuires in Destin for the past 14 years on vacation. Usually have to eat there several times during the week. We have never had anything to eat that wasn’t good. We always have the bean soup. Usually we have enough food left over for our lunch the next day. They are very nice there, in all the years we have had good service, and servers. Love McGuires Love their steaks and fish.Just wish we lived close to Destin.

  13. Debbie Craig November 1, 2017 at 10:45 am #

    Recently went to McQuire’s in Pensacola. I have been to the one in Destin before. The food was fantastic and service was great. I wish there were more of these restaurants in Florida or even better up north.

  14. susan mongell November 7, 2018 at 10:19 pm #

    So glad to find this…we have been to McGuire’s several times and love this soup! Can’t wait to try this on this snowy weekend in Ohio! Thank you for sharing!

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